Archive | April, 2010

Can dogs be racist?

30 Apr

There’s this Pomeranian that lives in my building. His name is Jay, but for the longest time I called him Teddy Pom-Pom, after a dog in an It’s Me or the Dog episode.

Jay is adorable, but I think Jay might be a racist.

Like many little dogs, he thinks he’s bigger and less fluffy than he is, and often shows signs of aggression towards various people and animals. I got on the elevator today with Jay. He looked up at me but didn’t make a noise. Then another guy got on. Nothing from Jay. But then two Hispanic maintenance men came on and Jay completely lost it. He started barking up a storm. “Ooo you’re a big scary dog!” one of them said to Jay with a laugh. Jay did not think this was funny at all and continued to bark until the men got off. Then it was just me, the other dude, and Jay’s owner. Jay calmed himself.

I’ve heard of dogs being partial to men or women, but can dogs be partial to race? What was it about the maintenance men that rubbed Jay the wrong way? Was it because they were Hispanic, or was it something else–perhaps their smell or the tools they were carrying?

I will update as my field work continues.

Why my grandma is awesome

28 Apr

My email signature consists of my name and this quote:

When you have an opportunity to include a panda in something, a panda should be included.” -Seth Stevenson, Slate Magazine.

It was from an article about the Beijing Olympics and how one of the mascots was panda-like.

I received an email from my Grandma today that was full of little pictures of pandas. I thought she just got a little clip art happy until I saw the end:

Love, Grandma OX (Insert a panda whenever possible.)

That is just one of the many reasons my grandma is awesome.

Pug gratia pugis

27 Apr

Don’t you hate when someone starts a blog and then promptly abandons it? That’s not what I’m trying to do, but I don’t want to post unless I have something worth posting. Sometimes that’ll happen three times a day, sometimes it takes a little longer. So until next time, here is a picture of a pug in a tuxedo. Enjoy.

Socks! Get ’em while they’re hot!

22 Apr

I stopped at an intersection today as I was driving around the city. There was a guy walking between the cars presumably selling something. When I first started driving in Chicago, I thought this was quite strange–guys standing on the yellow line, inches from cars speeding by, trying to get the stopped cars to buy a newspaper or donate money for a cause. I’m fairly familiar with the middle-of-the-road peddlers now, but what I saw today was something new. The guy wasn’t selling newspapers he was selling–get this–socks. Socks. He had all kinds–men’s, women’s, even girl’s pink socks with decorations on them. They were in packages of six or so, like you would get at a store, but without the Fruit of the Loom or Hane’s label on them. As far as I could tell, nobody was buying them. That’s a shame, because I’m sure he thought his business plan was fool-proof. I can see it now–“What can we sell that everyone needs? Nobody reads the news anymore, but everyone wears socks, right? And with the laundry room ‘sock monster’ mishaps, everyone always needs new socks. We’re gonna be golden!” Except he probably forgot the fact that most people aren’t willing to conduct a business transaction while stopped at red light.

I wish you luck, sock-selling man. I would have bought some, except I just bought new socks yesterday…and I’m weary of conducting business at a red light.

Today’s library random encounter

20 Apr

I think I should broaden the topic to Random Encounters I Have With People Everywhere. Because today one happened at the library.

I handed the young woman my library card as she scanned my books. “Can I ask you a question?” she asked. “You know a lot about designers and stuff, right?” Her question threw me. I was checking out a book about polygamy and some 80’s sheet music–nothing about designers. The way she asked it was as if I was standing there in a Chanel suit, Louboutins, and an LV bag in my hand. She started talking about a Prada bag she was thinking about buying, but couldn’t tell if it was authentic.

“Oh, she must have seen my Prada purse!” I thought, until I remembered that I wasn’t carrying my purse. I was using a tote bag that featured a Chihuahua in a hat with the phrase “Viva La Revolucion * Rescue * Spay & Neuter” on it. Not exactly designer material. I decided to play along. She asked if most designer bags have the name of the designer on the outside and on the inside. I told her most bags do, but it usually varies with the designer. Prada usually features the logo or name several times throughout the bag. I should have told her that if she has questions about the bag’s authenticity, it probably isn’t real. Or if it’s available for $50 on a street corner. I didn’t say any of that, but she seemed satisfied with my response. I still can’t figure out why she labeled me an expert on designer goods after taking one look at me (in my cheap Forever 21 jacket and Chihuahua tote). I guess I should never underestimate the power of my Armani sunglasses.

PIZZA!

20 Apr

I’m thinking Random Encounters I Have With People On The Elevator may be a regular feature on this blog.

Today a guy in his late-20s or early-30s got on the elevator with me. He was holding a box shaped like a slice of pizza. As we were going up–just the two of us–he opens the box, shows me that it is in fact a slice of pizza, then takes a long deep sniff of it and shouts–in a voice above normal elevator volume–“PIZZA!” I gave a little smile, and then he got off the elevator.

It’s not as good as the old guy that wants to roll around in the grass naked, but it was still a bit bizarre.

Stupidity of the day

20 Apr

I bought an electric keyboard for my apartment a few months ago. I love playing Yanni’s “To Take…To Hold,” or banging out Meat Loaf’s “For Crying Out Loud.” Any anger I may have, I take out on the keys with that song.

So I sat down to play today and realized a layer of dust had accumulated on the keys. So I got the Swifter duster and Endust spray I recently bought. I’ve never used dusting spray, but I felt like it couldn’t hurt.

I soon realized that “Leaving a natural shine” actually means leaving a slippery film. It might make a table look nice, but it was probably the worst thing I could put on keyboard keys. I positioned my hands to start “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” and my fingers slipped right off. Great.

So now I need to find a way to clean off the cleaning spray.

Pedestrian blockheads

16 Apr

I feel bad for “traffic management” folk. They have to stand outside all day waving an orange stick at a bunch of drivers and pedestrians that often choose to ignore them. Once I heard one shout, “Why is nobody listening to me?!” I chuckled a little, but felt his pain.

I used to say when I drive I hate pedestrians, and when I walk I hate drivers, but I think I tend to sympathize with drivers more. There’s one particular instance that really irks me: when there’s a green turning arrow and the pedestrians decide to cross, despite there being a “no walk” sign. It happens every single time I walk along State Street. The cars stop driving east and west, so the pedestrians automatically assume it’s time for a walk sign and they step into the street. Of course it’s not walk time, it’s green arrowing turning time for the cars driving north-south, but they never get a chance. I noticed today they even had a traffic control aide trying to prevent this mishap from happening, but it was no use. The minute one “blockhead” (which I believe is the term the lady with the orange stick called him) steps into the road, a throng of tourists and shoppers follow, making it impossible for the car to turn on the arrow. For this reason I purposely avoid driving on State St. or Michigan Ave., but this problem occurs at most intersections. I once came close to hitting a guy who was walking during my green arrow. He gave me this “Geez, learn how to drive!” look. I couldn’t come up with a “Geez, learn how to follow walk signs before you get run over!” look fast enough. The thing is, if I had hit him while I was turning on a green arrow and he was walking during a don’t walk sign, it would have been my fault just because I’m the driver and he’s the pedestrian, right? I’m not sure what the exact rules are, but I’m pretty sure it’s along the lines of “the pedestrian is always right.” I’m not saying as a driver I want the right to hit pedestrians, but there’s gotta be a way to solve this frustrating problem. How about people in bright vests waving orange sticks? Wait…

Paying it forward

14 Apr

This afternoon I was going on my usual walk around the city when I was approached by an older gentlemen in front of the library. “Are you from Chicago?” he asked, desperation in his voice. “Yeah…” I replied, thinking his next request would be directions to the Art Institute. Instead he told me he was from the suburbs and was just at a business meeting. He went to get his car from the parking garage and realized he left his wallet at home.

Normally I don’t give money to strangers. Living in the city for several years, I’ve become almost immune to the beggars on the street. Sad, but true. I’ve seen too many take the money and buy liquor or cigarettes with it. But there was something about this guy. The panic in his eyes showed that he didn’t do this for a living. “I just need $17, I’ll mail it back to you with interest, I promise!” he said, then added: “It’s ok if you can’t or don’t want to, I’ll understand.”

I stood there for a minute. This felt different than being stopped by Green Peace or the ASPCA, trying to think of any excuse to walk away. Instead, I thought about the phantom $8 I found yesterday. How I couldn’t help but feel the need to do something good with that money. I saw this as a chance. So I gave the guy $20. Words can’t express the happiness that came over him. I gave him my mailing address (which I guess you’re probably not supposed to do with strangers, but he didn’t seem like a guy who would try to track me down and rob me). He gratefully shook my hand then we were both on our way. I couldn’t help but smile, and even felt a little choked up. I’ve never done something like that. Who knows if the guy will send my money back, or if he even had a car in the garage. All I know is that at the time it felt right. I guess that’s what they call “giving in grace.”

Jackpot?

14 Apr

What are the rules with money-finding? Is it still “finder’s keepers”? I ask because yesterday I found $8.

I don’t have much experience with money-finding. When I was young, my dad and I found $5 on the street when we were making the rounds selling Girl Scout cookies in our Pittsburgh neighborhood. We were so excited until we got home and counted our money envelope and realized we were short $5. That’s the thing about money-finding–for every person who feels blessed with some extra cash, someone else is shorted.

That’s why I was a bit conflicted when I saw $8 on the top of the escalator as I was leaving the gym yesterday. It was rolling around hopelessly, I had to rescue it from being sucked in! I did the obligatory look around to see if anyone was crawling on the floor looking for $8. But there was no one around, so I pocketed it.

Now here’s the big question–was the $8 sent from above as a way of returning good karma to me, or am I now going to receive bad karma because I took someone else’s money? Who knows. I think it’d feel better if I knew it belonged to one of my noisy neighbors or the ones that smoke and make my apartment smell like smoke.

But if anyone in Chicago has lost $8 recently, please comment with a full description (including serial numbers) of the money, and perhaps we can organize a return.

Now I don’t feel as badly.